Film Scouts Reviews

"Sliding Doors"

by Robin J. Schwartz

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January 15, 1998

Robert Frost would love this one. (Remember your classic poetry: "The Road Not Taken"? Starts out, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...." ?) Well, Gwyneth Paltrow gets to find out what happens on both roads. Poor Gwynnie ("Helen" in the film) has just been sacked from her high-profile London PR job, goes racing for the Tube ... and that's where things fork up. In Version A, Helen makes the train and meets glib-but-sincere James, as she heads home to wayward lover Jerry. In Version B (which we get via a rewind of Helen running for the Tube but not making it), Helen catches Jerry in flagrante and ... well, that would be telling. It's an intriguing concept, having the two stories unwind simultaneously, but awfully confusing in execution - even after "Version B" Helen cuts and dyes her hair. James, played by John Hannah, is a slightly daft but delicious suitor - like a younger version of Scottish comic Billy Connolly. And it's refreshing to see John Lynch, who usually plays brooding Irishmen, as the charming cad Jerry. Clever lines abound (e.g., Best Friend: Can I give you some advice? Jerry: Will I like it? BF: Of course not; it's based in reality!), and Gwyneth's British accent has improved since "Emma", but "Sliding Doors" feels like it might have been a better movie ... if only it had taken that other road.

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